Germany's Best Beers

What are Germany's best beers? If you check the internet, you will find several lists that pretend to answer the question. And you will find that some of these lists always comprise the same names - for quite a simple reason. The lists are from the U.S. and they only cover German beers available in the States.  If you consider that not more than 40 German breweries ship beer to the U.S. and that only half of them have a relevant distribution it becomes clear that these lists do not answer the question. 


So here is our gallery of the best German beers, based on a meta-analysis of twelve beer-rating sites, mainly from Germany. It is not a over-all ranking; we show the best beer for the major styles. More Detailed rankings by style are on the right. Click on an icons to get more information.

Apart from the major styles there are some styles in Germany that have a very low market share. These are Märzen, Porter, Kräusen, Weizenbock, Gose, (echter) Zoigl,  Rauchbier (smoked), Roggen (rye) and other beers with rare malts (spelt, emmer), and Berliner Weiße.


Facts and Links to High Quality Beer

Name Place Since     Production  Region
Waldhaus Waldhaus  1833 50.000 hl Black Forest
Weihenstephan Freising  1040  140.000 hl Bavaria
Hofmühl Eichstätt  1492  85.000 hl Bavaria
Zötler Rettenberg      1447  45.000 hl Allgäu
Wagner Kemmern  1788  8.000 hl Franconia
Ayinger Aying  1878  100.000 hl Bavaria
Pfaffenbier Lohmar  2001  1.500 hl Rhineland
Füchschen Düsseldorf  1848  30.000 hl Rhineland
Hartmann Würgau  1550  14.000 hl Franconia
Neder Forchheim  1554 5.000 hl Franconia 


Annual beer production is given in hectolitres. 1000 hl are about 600 U.K. beer barrels and 850 U.S. beer barrels.



What exactly is Vollbier?

Vollbier is a category of beer according to the German excise act for beer. Vollbier has a gravity of 11.0 to 15.9°P, which is 3-6% ABV. 99% of all beers fall into this category (if you do not consider non-alcoholic beer). The beer tax is graded according to the category and the size of the brewery.

The category must not be printed on the label. The labels show the beer style, like Pils, Weizen, Bock etc. Some small brewery still put Vollbier on the label. This is pure nostalgia and might also indicate that they have a very limited range of beer styles. Quite often, a label saying Vollbier is a good indicator for high quality beer, because it comes from a small brewery that is focussed on this one beer for a very long time.

The category with higher gravity (≥16°P, > 6% ABV) is call Starkbier (strong bier, the style is Bock and others), beer with low alcohol (<3% ABV) is called Schankbier.


The tax for Vollbier with 5% ABV (average value) is 94 eurocents for 10 liters. There are reduced rates for smaller breweries. The tax for a brewery with a production less than 5000 hl per year is 53 eurocents for 10 liters. That is the lowest beer tax in Europa (except from the country that has no beer tax, Albania)



And by the way, what does Landbier mean?


Just like Vollbier, Landbier is not a beer style. Landbier means beer from the countryside and is a term created for marketing purposes. Mostly it is just a Lager, a Helles or a Dunkles, the term Landbier it does not indicate quality at all.